Research Programme

Together, the two Universities cover a broad range of STFC science, including planetary, solar physics, heliospheric physics, stellar physics, galaxies, cosmology and particle physics.

The STFC science programme at Northumbria University conducts a world-leading, long-term research programme to understand the physics of the Sun, Sun-Earth connection, and solar-type stars. Evidence of its frontier research programme’s success includes STFC Consolidated Grant funding, Ernest Rutherford Fellowships and a UKRI Future Leader Fellow (within the STFC remit). The Group also plays multiple roles in UKRI’s SWIMMR (Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk) programme in support of the Met Office. In addition to STFC funding, the Group receives funding from the UK Space Agency (including National Space Innovation Programme), NERC, Leverhulme Trust, Royal Astronomical Society, the US Air Force, ESA, and EU Horizon 2020. At Northumbria, the staff under the STFC remit are based in the Solar and Space Physics research group, working on solar physics, space physics, the Sun-Earth connection, Solar-Terrestrial Physics and computational astrophysics. The expertise spans numerical – including heavy use of High Performance Computing (HPC) – as well as data analysis of large data sets (including utilising cutting edge methods from data science and machine learning). These researchers have strong links with the Department of Computer and Information Science, containing academics working on all aspects of Data Science.

At Newcastle University, the STFC remit staff broadly fall into the following research groups: Geophysical and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics – The most established group, made up of both astrophysicists and applied mathematicians – this group has broad expertise in numerical simulations, including planets and exoplanets, stars, galaxies and the interstellar medium and Cosmological N-Body simulations. Compact Objects – working at the borderline of observations and theory and a group working on numerical simulations of neutron star interiors. Galaxies and Galactic Evolution – a new group made up of observers studying the energetics and dynamics of feedback from AGN with the primary aim of understanding the key mechanisms responsible for the quenching of star-formation in galaxies using observational platforms such as ALMA and JWST. Cosmology and Particle Physics – the group includes theoretical early universe scientists, observational cosmologists and numerical simulations. Many of these staff also work in particle physics.

The Northumbria and Newcastle campuses are within 500m. This unique co-location promotes cohort cohesiveness and access to collective facilities. Both institutions have HPC facilities and have committed significant recent investment in this area. Oswald (Northumbria) and Rocket (Newcastle) are all available for doctoral candidates to perform HPC problems. A broad range of software also exists across the sites. Strong links across mathematics, computation and statistics forged through the previous CDTs provide extensive and diverse big data and computing modelling capabilities.